Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sweater Threads

I sometimes think I'm working on a life assignment to examine and understand what's really going on. It all comes down to finding Truth. I'm responsible for asking big questions, hearing the answers and courageously acting differently when I see I've been wrong. The converse, I suppose, is to not rely too heavily on "conventional" wisdom. Your own wisdom is more trustworthy.

Pretty deep, I know.

Anyway, this post isn't about that. It's simply an examination of why I've gotten this assignment. Why did I start doing this? Why does anybody start doing this? It's not particularly comfortable (though I do find it meaningful and fulfilling).

I like to think of the process as pulling on a sweater thread. To begin with, it's just a loose thread. There's a complete, suitable sweater there... and you're ruining it. Most people ignore the thread, or trim it. A typical response is to maintain the integrity of the sweater. Some, however, compulsively pull on the thread. The more they pull, the more they see beneath. The more they see beneath, the more they pull.

Looking back, a convergence of factors pushed me to first ask questions.
  • An increasing sense of my own mortality - a close friend passed away shortly after I was frightened by my own health. A perspective smack if ever there was one
  • A culmination of frustrations in my career - I hit the "sick and tired of being sick and tired" point
  • The impeccable chance timing of a leadership course that turned into a lifelong coaching and mentoring relationship
I've taken this analogy this far. I'd better examine the punch line. You end up without a sweater. Do we end up exposed and cold? I don't think that's it. I think we're in direct contact with the elements. We end up more aware, more responsive and more capable of an appropriate and thoughtful engagement with our environment.

What is your sweater thread?

1 comment:

Jason Grayston said...

The path to wisdom continues, and you, my school colleague from years past, speak like a man who has chosen a fine mission in life. I often have the same questions as you. Good to see your are doing more than just having the conventional cup of coffee session to solve things. Bravo, and good luck in your quest.